At The Pass

Baraka Restaurant, London EC2

It has to be said that No 1, Unit 4 Finsbury Avenue, Broadgate was not the easiest of places to find. I was completely lost but luckily my friend ‘S’, also lost but less so, had tracked it down and had arrived at Baraka before me, and was therefore able to talk me in from close-by Liverpool St station – thank goodness for mobile phones. 

Having got over that hurdle I have to say we both loved Baraka The meal was delicious and we were looked after beautifully and made so welcome by the staff that we quickly relaxed, and were soon sitting with a bottle of smooth and moreish Turkish red (Kavaklidere) between us sharing a bowl of olives and bread, studying the menu and taking in our surroundings.

A sleek new Turkish restaurant

Baraka is a sleek new restaurant specialising in Turkish, Anatolian, and mangal (barbecue) cooking.

I had expected the restaurant décor to have a Turkish theme, but no, this restaurant is clean-cut modern to its finger tips, echoing the modern development around it. Outside is a seating area with a large orange umbrella, plants and olive trees – a pleasant spot for al fresco drinking or dining in warmer months.

Incidentally Baraka serves food all day (including breakfast) and at weekends also offers  a ‘bottomless brunch .

A stylish bar and restaurant

As I pushed open the heavy outside  glass door I found myself in a stylish bar area, the bar itself immaculately tidy with its rows of bottles, glasses and a coffee machine; behind the bar area the spacious, airy  restaurant itself plus open kitchen with its  hard working enthusiastic chefs  and the mangal grill.

The restaurant itself maybe fractionally on the minimalistic side for some tastes, but I loved the modern light fittings and the elegant wall wine display unit; maybe the music was a tad too loud but it wasn’t intrusive,  and our waitress Isabel and her colleagues were a sheer delight, so very warm and friendly. And how lovely to see that a restaurant celebrates staff birthdays too.

We start with a meze platter

Isabel suggested we shared the meze platter.  It was delicious – every single dish –  from the flat bread to the creamy humus, the smoky baba ganoush to the refreshing tabbouleh and kisir; and  certainly not forgetting the extra plate of crisp-on-the-outside  and soft-on-the-inside falafels and the filo pastry sigara borek stuffed with herbs and feta cheese.

At £11.95 the Mezze selection we decided was a great choice. Starters average £5.75 – £7.45.

Main courses

But of course we also needed a main course.  We turned to Isabel for advice once again. She recommended the Kuzu Shish – marinated lamb piled on a bed of baba ganoush with grilled peppers, tomato and herbs. The lamb had the most wonderful flavour and was unbelievably tender.  

To go alongside it she suggested the Hellim and Aubergine gratin – or, as she described it, a sort of vegetarian moussaka with layers of sliced aubergines and halloumi cheese in a garlic and tomato sauce with basil pesto and rocket –so tasty. Main dishes average in the region of £13.95 – £18.50.

Kazandibi for dessert

It turned out that Isabel (actually from Poland) loved Turkish food – she insisted we tried  a dessert recommending Kazandibi a milk pudding made with mastic gum, and with a caramelised and cinnamon top, plus rose ice cream.

To be honest we were doubtful, we really didn’t have room for dessert but we compromised with one portion and two spoons. It was gorgeous; a lovely delicate wobble to the milk pudding, plus a scoop of ice cream with its hint of rose. Desserts about £6.50.

To finish our lunch – cups of excellent non-sweetened Turkish coffee, what a treat.  

As we walked back to Liverpool St station ‘S’ and I agreed that Baraka could well be one of our favourite ‘let’s meet at’ places. Baraka Restaurant definitely has our vote.

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